Ruth: Thanksgiving in Bethlehem

Ruth2:14-23

And at mealtime Boaz said to her, Come here and eat some bread and dip your morsel in the wine. So she sat beside the reapers, and he passed to her roasted grain. And she ate until she was satisfied, and she had some left over. 15 When she rose to glean, Boaz instructed his young men, saying, Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not reproach her. 16 And also pull out some from the bundles for her and leave it for her to glean, and do not rebuke her.
17 So she gleaned in the field until evening. Then she beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley. 18 And she took it up and went into the city. Her mother- in- law saw what she had gleaned. She also brought out and gave her what food she had left over after being satisfied. 19 And her mother- in- law said to her, Where did you glean today? And where have you worked? Blessed be the man who took notice of you. So she told her mother- in- law with whom she had worked and said, The man’s name with whom I worked today is Boaz. 20 And Naomi said to her daughter- in- law, May he be blessed by the Lord, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead! Naomi also said to her, The man is a close relative of ours, one of our redeemers. 21 And Ruth the Moabite said, Besides, he said to me, You shall keep close by my young men until they have finished all my harvest. 22 And Naomi said to Ruth, her daughter- in- law, It is good, my daughter, that you go out with his young women, lest in another field you be assaulted. 23 So she kept close to the young women of Boaz, gleaning until the end of the barley and wheat harvests. And she lived with her mother- in- law. ESV

 

Introduction

Lots of folks like to watch old classics like Miracle on 34th Street, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Bishop’s Wife, and A Christmas Carol, along with many others. I wish there was a well-made movie about the Pilgrim’s first Thanksgiving, for their first year in the wilds of North America is truly a remarkable story.

All this entered into my thoughts as I was thinking about a title for this message, and I thought that our text is also a great story of Thanksgiving for Ruth and Naomi. In one day their lives turn around remarkably. God has not forgotten them, though Naomi felt like it was even worse than that. Instead, the day that started with a chance wandering into a field owned by Boaz shines brightly with many pleasant possibilities for which Naomi must praise the Lord. Let us think about what God did for them.

 

Exposition

I.          Remarkable generosity (2:14-16)

A.        Boaz invites Ruth to have lunch.

1.         Though I don’t want to disappoint all the romantics, this was hardly a lunch date. Don’t think they went to Fellini’s. Everyone had been working out under the hot sun in their work clothes. They were sweaty and dirty and tired. If you have ever helped put hay in, you probably have a better picture of this event. If you haven’t worked at putting hay in, you probably should this coming summer, so that you might better understand how easy your life has been compared to farm workers.

2.         Instead, Boaz invites Ruth into his community of workers. This was welcome news to the outsider from Moab. She doesn’t have to eat alone, ostracized by others. She can enjoy fellowship or friendship.

Apply: We must not underestimate the power of sharing meals with people. Even on construction crews, guys get along better during break or lunch. Food is satisfying and promotes happiness and conversation. Our ESL dinner last Tuesday night was a wonderful event.

3.         Ruth shows prudence, taking a place beside the workers. She does not overreach. We have to use opportunities wisely. But Boaz does more. He heaps up her plate with roasted grain, which the people in that culture enjoyed. Think pasta to translate! (I guess I shouldn’t have used Fellini’s in the previous illustration.) Ruth has all she needs and more, and that must have felt very good for a hungry widow, who was working hard in the field all morning. Can you see the smile on her face?

B.        Boaz provides more help for Ruth.

1.         He gives her permission to gather sheaves of grain wherever she pleases.

2.         He orders his workers not to give her a hard time.

3.         He tells his workers to give her extra stalks on purpose.

Apply: When people are in difficulty, we need to give them more help than normal. It is not the time to add more problems to their life! We need to ask questions and study out their situation. What kind of help do they need? How can we serve them to get them through their present crisis? How can we be kind to them?

 

II.        Surprising wages (2:17-19)

A.        Ruth finds out how much she earned for the day.

1.         She still has hard work to do, because she has to separate the barley grain from the stalk. Ruth would have to beat the stalks with a curved stick or wooden hammer, which separated the husks from the kernels, and then gather the kernels together. This would be tedious, time-consuming work. She probably gathered the kernels together on her shawl, and so carried them home on her back. Ruth is probably exhausted at this point.

2.         She found that she had gathered about five gallons of grain. This would be enough to feed them for a couple weeks. In their reckoning, this would be about two week’s wages. So Ruth did quite well that day.

Apply: When the Lord gives you blessings, give thanks immediately. Don’t give sin an opportunity to build pride in your heart. Thank him for what you accomplished.

B.        Naomi is pleasantly surprised about what Ruth brings home.

1.         Ruth gives Naomi her leftover roasted grain from lunch. She knew how much Naomi would enjoy it. This shows Ruth’s generous and loyal nature. When Naomi takes all this in, she realizes that Ruth had to have received help to achieve all this.

2.         So Naomi has all kinds of questions to ask in her excitement. She prays for a blessing on her benefactor. Notice how praying for God to bless someone is part of her life. Prayer should be as natural to us as breathing. It should be part of our conversation at appropriate times.

3.         Ruth reveals his name. Notice how she says his name last, which is also the word order in the Hebrew text. You can see how she lets the suspense build, as one woman might do in talking to another. Though the narrator has let us in on some of the significance of Boaz (2:1), Ruth does not yet know this. Up to this point, Boaz has just been a kind man to her. Is he more than kind?

Apply: When was the last time that you were pleasantly surprised by God’s blessings to you? Do you notice how much the Lord gives you constantly?

 

III.       Celebrated kindness (2:20-23)

A.        Naomi turns to worship. In an instant, Naomi understands that the Lord has not abandoned her! Everything is not as hopeless as she has thought. God is not attacking her, but is helping her through some tough circumstances.

1.         Naomi again prays for God’s blessing on Boaz. He is not present for her to thank him, which she ought to do, but she does what she can at that moment. Praying for God’s blessing on someone is the best thanks we can give. Do we have this on our minds, so that when such situations arise, words of blessing come from us? This is an area of life in which we must become more properly spiritual.

2.         Naomi realizes that she has received kindness. Grammatically, this can refer to either the Lord or Boaz, but I think it is better to refer it to the Lord, since it is difficult to understand how Boaz could have been such a source of kindness to Naomi over the years. (Notice that she says, “He has not stopped showing his kindness….”) So then, Naomi knows that God is still involved in her life and still shows her kindness, which is steadfast, loyal love, kindness and mercy rolled into one.

B.        Naomi explains the significance of Boaz to Ruth. We must remember that Ruth was from Moab, and there would be much about life during the law covenant that she did not understand. Naomi assures Ruth that Boaz is the close relative and kinsman-redeemer of both of them. The kinsman-redeemer had various duties in the clan:

1.         He was responsible for the repurchase of property once owned by clan members but sold from economic necessity (Lev 25:25-30; cf. Jer 32:1-15).

2.         If financially able, he also redeemed relatives whose poverty had forced them to sell themselves into slavery (Lev 25:47-55). It may be on this point that the rest of the book of Ruth turns.

3.         He had the duty to avenge the killing of a relative by tracking down and executing the killer (Num 35:12, 19-27; Deut 19:6, 12: Josh 20:2-3, 5, 9).

4.         He received the money paid to the clan as restitution committed against a deceased clan member (Num 5:8).

C.        Ruth and Naomi are able to celebrate what has happened.

1.         They agree that Ruth should only work in Boaz’ fields. Why would Naomi urge Ruth to stay in a place where God was blessing her? She would do this, because she had left the place of God’s blessing ten years before, and she doesn’t want Ruth to repeat her mistake!

2.         Ruth is able to glean until the completion of the barley and wheat harvests. The point is that God was continually providing for them! It was not just one good day, but many good days!

Apply: Rejoice in what the Lord gives you. In Ruth’s case she had to work very hard throughout the entire harvest to get food for them. And at the end of the harvest period, she is still living with her mother-in-law and waiting for a marriage proposal. The Lord is blessing her, but her life is not “perfect”—whatever that means. If we are willing to be very honest, all of us have to admit that there are some items that we want. But don’t allow what you lack to hinder your gratitude for what the Lord has already provided. Thank God continually for present blessings, while you wait for what he will do in his time.

~ Dave

 

Pastor Dave Frampton

When push comes to shove there is usually nothing more satisfying than for a saint of God to have at his or her disposal a source of biblically sound instruction in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The faithful and spiritually profitable labors of Dave Frampton are here at CMC to be a blessing. Bible teacher and student alike will profit much from his labor in the God’s Word. Visit Newtown Square Baptist Church.